Former Blue Jay ernon Wells is on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. After a great start to his career, he’s not always remembered for how good he actually was.
The Blue Jays are very well represented on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. Of course, Roy Halladay is on the ballot for the first time and should have a pretty good chance of being a first ballot Hall of Famer.
He’s not the only one though, as the Blue Jays are also represented by former pitchers Ted Lilly and Roger Clemens, and also the highest paid player in franchise history, Vernon Wells.
Wells is one of the more polarizing figures in franchise history, at least in terms of how he is remembered for his contributions in Toronto. Looking purely at his numbers as a Blue Jay, it’s hard to argue against him being one of the best players in franchise history. So, why isn’t he always remembered that way?
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I believe the answer is simple, unfortunately. Although I don’t think it’s fair at all, many Blue Jays fans simply remember the albatross contract he signed back in 2007, and unfortunately didn’t live up to. He was handed the largest contract in Blue Jays history at seven years, and 126 million, and unfortunately only had one season after the new contract where he really lived up to the salary and expectations.
However, if you forget about the contract completely and just look at the numbers, Wells doesn’t get the credit he’s due in Toronto, or probably across all of baseball. In the course of 15 seasons, The Louisiana native slashed .270/.319/.459 and hit 270 home runs, 958 RBI, 379 doubles, and 109 stolen bases with the Blue Jays, Angels, and Yankees.
He wasn’t just a bat-only contributor either, as he ended up winning three Gold Glove awards in centre field, playing an important role on the defensive side. When combined with his three All-Star appearances and one silver slugger award, Wells was viewed as one of the better all-around players in the game. He even earned MVP votes in 2003 and 2006.
Wells played in a Blue Jay era that brought great frustration for many fans. The team always seemed like they could have accomplished more, especially with the likes of Halladay and other talents on the roster. Wells’ contract was also seen as a roadblock to why that team couldn’t add more talent when that group was on the busy, which brought more ire his way, especially as he struggled to meet his previous standards. By the time he was shipped off to L.A., most Blue Jays fans celebrated finally getting that money off the books.
While I understand that feeling and even celebrated it a bit myself, I always felt that Wells got a tough reputation with Blue Jays fans, simply because of his big contract. If we simply look at the numbers, the contributions to the community, and the man himself, Vernon Wells deserves to be remembered very fondly in Toronto.